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Sunday, June 16th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Ephesians 5

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations

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Ephesians 5:1,Ephesians 5:2 Paul exhorteth to the imitation of God, and of the love of Christ,

Ephesians 5:3,Ephesians 5:4 to avoid fornication and all uncleanness,

Ephesians 5:5,Ephesians 5:6 which exclude from, the kingdom of God, and draw down God’s wrath on unbelievers,

Ephesians 5:7-14 with whose works of darkness Christians, that have better light to inform and influence them, should have no fellowship,

Ephesians 5:15-17 to walk with prudence and circumspection,

Ephesians 5:18-20 not to drink wine to excess, but to be filled with the Spirit, singing psalms, and giving thanks to God,

Ephesians 5:21 and being in due subordination to one another.

Ephesians 5:22-24 The duty of wives toward their husbands,

Ephesians 5:25-33 and of husbands toward their wives, enforced by the example of Christ and his church.

Verse 1

Be ye therefore followers of God; particularly in being kind, and forgiving injuries, Matthew 5:45,Matthew 5:48; so that this relates to the last verse of the former chapter.

As dear children; viz. of God. Children should imitate their fathers, especially when beloved of them.

Verse 2

And walk in love; let your whole conversation be in love.

As Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us; viz. to die for us, Galatians 2:20, as the greatest argument of his love, John 15:13; Romans 5:8.

An offering and a sacrifice to God: either offering signifies a meat-offering, which was joined as an appendix with the bloody sacrifice; or rather more generally, all the oblations that were under the law; and the word

sacrifice either restrains it to those especially in which blood was shed for expiation of sin, or explains the meaning of it: q.d. Christ gave himself an offering, even a sacrifice in the proper sense, i.e. a bloody one.

For a sweet-smelling savour; i.e. acceptable to God; alluding to the legal sacrifices, {see Genesis 8:21; Leviticus 1:9} and intimating those other to have been accepted of God, only, with respect to that of Christ; and that as Christ dying to reconcile sinners to God was acceptable to him, so our spiritual sacrifices are then only like to be accepted of him, when we are reconciled to our brother, Matthew 5:23,Matthew 5:24.

Verse 3

But fornication; folly committed between unmarried persons, especially men’s abuse of themselves with common strumpets, a sin not owned as such among the heathen.

And all uncleanness; all other unlawful lusts whereby men defile themselves.

Or covetousness; either an insatiable desire of gratifying their lusts, as Ephesians 4:19; or rather an immoderate desire of gain, which was usual in cities of great trade, as Ephesus was: see Ephesians 5:5.

Let it not be once named among you; not heard of, or not mentioned without detestation: see Psalms 16:4; 1 Corinthians 5:1.

As becometh saints, who should be pure and holy, not in their bodies and minds only, but in their words too.

Verse 4

Neither filthiness; obscenity in discourse, filthy communication, Colossians 3:8.

Nor foolish talking; affectation of foolish, vain speech, (whether jocose or serious), unprofitable, to the hearers.

Nor jesting; either the same as the former, as may seem by the disjunctive particle nor, which may be by way of explication; or (which is of kin to it) scurrility in discourse, which is many times, by them that are addicted to it, called by the name of urbanity, or jesting: for all that jesting is not here condemned appears by 1 Kings 18:27; Isaiah 14:11.

Which are not convenient; viz. for saints.

But rather giving of thanks; i.e. to God for mercies received, which will better cheer up and recreate the mind than foolish talking and jesting can.

Verse 5

Nor covetous man, who is an idolater; because he serves Mammon instead of God, loves his riches more than God, and placeth his hope in them.

Hath any inheritance; without repentance; for he speaks of those that persevere in such sins, whom he calls children of disobedience, Ephesians 5:6.

In the kingdom of Christ and of God; not two distinct kingdoms, but one and the same, which belongs to God by nature, to Christ as Mediator. By this phrase he intimates, that there is no coming into the kingdom of God but by Christ.

Verse 6

Vain words; false and deceitful, which cannot secure to you the impunity they promise you, bearing you in hand, either that those things are not sins, or not so dangerous.

The wrath of God; viz. in the other world.

Verse 7

With those children of disobedience, who continue in the forementioned sins: see Job 34:8; Psalms 50:18.

Verse 8

For ye were sometimes darkness; the same as in darkness, Romans 2:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:4; viz. the darkness of sin, ignorance, unbelief. The abstract being put for the concrete, shows the greatness of that darkness in which they were.

But now are ye light in the Lord; either now, being in Christ, ye are light, or rather, ye are enlightened or made light by Christ, being furnished with spiritual knowledge, faith, purity, and holiness.

Walk as children of light; a Hebraism; children of light, for those that are in the light, 1 Thessalonians 5:5; q.d. Let your conversation be suitable to your condition and privileges: see 1 John 1:7.

Verse 9

The fruit of the Spirit; either in the fruit or work of the new nature, or of the Holy Ghost, by whom we are made light in the Lord: see Galatians 5:22.

In all goodness; either a general virtue in opposition to wickedness, or benignity and bounty.

Righteousness; in opposition to injustice, by covetousness, fraud, &c.

Truth; in opposition to error, lies, hypocrisy. He shows what it is to walk as children of light.

Verse 10

Searching what the will of the Lord is, and approving it by your practice as the rule of your walking, Romans 12:2.

Verse 11

Have no fellowship with; not only do not practise them yourselves, but do not join with others in them, by consent, advice, assistance, or any other way whereby ye may be defiled by them.

The unfruitful; by a meiosis, for bringing forth evil fruit, destructive, pernicious, Romans 6:21; Galatians 6:8.

Works of darkness; wicked works, so called because they proceed from darkness in the mind, the ignorance of God, and men are put upon them by the devil, the prince of darkness, and because they are afraid of the light.

But rather reprove them; or convince them, viz. not only by your words, Leviticus 19:17; Matthew 18:15, but especially by your actions, which being contrary to them, will both evidence them to be, and reprove them as being, works of darkness.

Verse 12

For it is a shame even to speak of those things; much more to have fellowship with them in them.

Which are done of them in secret; the darkness adding boldness, as if what men did not see, God did not observe.

Verse 13

But all things; or all those things, viz. those unfruitful works of darkness, which are to be reproved.

Are made manifest; i.e. in the minds and consciences of the sinners themselves.

By the light; the light of doctrine in verbal reproofs, and of a holy life in real and practical ones.

For whatsoever doth make manifest is light; or, it is the light which manifests every thing, viz. which was before in the dark. The apostle argues from the nature and office of light; q.d. It is the property of light to discover and manifest what before was not seen, and therefore it becomes you who are light in the Lord to shine as lights in the world, Philippians 2:15, that ye may by your holy conversation convince wicked men of their wickedness, and deeds of darkness, which they did not before perceive in themselves.

Verse 14

He saith; either God by the prophets, of whose preaching this is the sum; it may allude in particular to Isaiah 60:1. Or, Christ by his ministers, in the preaching of the gospel, who daily calls men to arise from the death of sin by repentance, and encourageth them with the promise of eternal life.

Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead; the same thing in two different expressions. Sinners in some respects are said to be asleep, in others, to be dead. They are as full of dreams and vain imaginations, and as unfit for any good action, as they that are asleep are for natural; and they are as full of stench and loathsomeness as they that are dead. Here therefore they are bid to awake from sin as a sleep, and to arise from it as a death. The meaning is, that they should arise by faith and repentance out of that state of spiritual death in which they lie while in their sins.

And Christ shall give thee light; the light of peace and joy here, and eternal glory hereafter. The apostle intimates, that what is the way of Christ in the gospel should likewise be the practice of these Ephesians, whom he calls light in the Lord, viz. to reprove the unfruitful works of darkness, and awaken sleeping, dead sinners, and bring them to the light of Christ.

Verse 15

See then that ye walk circumspectly; being called to reprove the evil conversation of others, see that ye walk exactly and accurately yourselves, avoiding extremes and keeping close to the rule. See the same word rendered diligently, Matthew 2:8, and perfectly, 1 Thessalonians 5:2.

Not as fools; who are destitute of spiritual wisdom, and through carelessness fall into sin or error, though in the light of the gospel.

But as wise; those that are taught of God, and are endued with wisdom from above.

Verse 16

Redeeming the time; or, buying the opportunity: a metaphor taken from merchants, that diligently observe the time for buying and selling, and easily part with their pleasure for gain; q.d. Deny yourselves in your ease, pleasure, &c. to gain an opportunity of doing good.

Because the days are evil; either wicked, by reason of the wickedness of those that live in them, or troublesome, full of difficulties and dangers, by reason of men’s hatred of you, and so either depriving you of the opportunity of doing good, or exposing you to hazards for doing it.

Verse 17

Understanding, diligently considering,

what the will of the Lord is, in the understanding of which your chief wisdom consists.

Verse 18

Wherein, in which drunkenness,

is excess; profuseness, lasciviousness, and all manner of lewdness, as the effects of drunkenness, Proverbs 23:29, &c.

But be filled with the Spirit; the Holy Spirit, often compared to water; or the joy of the Spirit, in opposition to being filled with wine, Acts 2:13, and that carnal mirth which is caused by it: q.d. Be not satisfied with a little of the Spirit, but seek for a greater measure, so as to be filled with the Spirit. See Psalms 36:8; John 3:34; John 4:14.

Verse 19

Speaking, &c.; in opposition to the vain chaff and lewd talkativeness of drunkards over their cups.

To yourselves; Gr. in yourselves, i.e. among yourselves, both in church assemblies and families.

In psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs; under these names he comprehends all manner of singing to mutual edification and God’s glory. The particular distinction of them is uncertain, but most take psalms to be such as anciently were sung with musical instruments; hymns, such as contained only matter of praise;

spiritual songs, such as were of various matter, doctrinal, prophetical, historical, &c.: see on Colossians 3:16.

Singing and making melody in your heart; not only with your voice, but with inward affection, contrary to the guise of hypocrites.

To the Lord; to the glory of God, not for the pleasure of the sense, or for gain, &c.

Verse 20

Giving thanks always: God still by fresh mercies gives fresh occasion for thanksgiving, and we must accordingly continue our thanksgiving through the whole course of our lives without weariness.

For all things; all sorts of mercies, among which afflictions may be reckoned, as working for good to them that love God, Romans 8:28.

Unto God and the Father; i.e. unto God even the Father, the Fountain of all our good.

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; in whose name, and by whose merit, all good things are given to us, and by whom we offer up all our prayers, and praises, and spiritual services, that they may be accepted of God.

Verse 21

Submitting yourselves one to another, viz. to those to whom ye ought to be subject in natural, civil, or church relations.

In the fear of God; either for fear of offending God, the Author of all power, who commands this subjection; or so far as is consistent with the fear of God, and so in those things which are not forbidden of him.

Verse 22

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands; yielding honour and obedience to them.

As unto the Lord; for the Lord’s sake who hath commanded it, so that ye cannot be subject to him without being subject to them: see 1 Timothy 2:12.

Verse 23

For the husband is the head of the wife; superior to her by God’s ordination in authority and dignity, as the head in the natural body, being the seat of reason, and the fountain of sense and motion, is more excellent than the rest of the body.

Even as Christ is the head of the church: see Ephesians 1:22; Colossians 1:18. The particle as notes not equality, but likeness, Christ being the Head of the church in a more excellent way than the husband is of the wife.

And he is the saviour of the body; i.e. Christ is the Saviour of his church, implying that so likewise the husband is given to the wife to be a saviour to her, in maintaining, protecting, and defending her; and therefore the wife, if she regard her own good, should not grudge to be subject to him.

Verse 24

As the church is subject to Christ, viz. with cheerfulness, chastity, humility, obedience, &c.

So let the wives be to their own husbands; in imitation of the church’s subjection to Christ, as a pattern of their subjection to their husbands.

In every thing; understand, to which the authority of the llusband extends itself.

Verse 25

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, viz. with a sincere, pure, ardent, and constant affection. As they resemble Christ in the honour they have of being the heads of their wives, so they must likewise in performing the duty of loving them, under which all matrimonial duties are comprehended.

And gave himself for it; whereby he testified the greatness of his love.

Verse 26

That he might sanctify; purify from its filth, and consecrate unto God: implying the whole translation of it out of a state of sin and misery into a state of grace and life, consisting in the remission of sin, and renovation of nature.

And cleanse it; or, cleansing it, importing the means whereby he works the former effect.

With the washing of water, viz. in baptism, in which the external washing represents seals, and exhibits the internal cleansing from both the guilt and defilement of sin by the blood of Christ, Hebrews 9:14; Revelation 1:5.

By the word; the word of the gospel, especially the promise of free justification and sanctification by Christ, which received by faith is a means of this sanctification, and without which the external washing is ineffectual; the sign, without the word whereof it is a seal, being no sacrament.

Verse 27

That he might present it to himself; hereafter in heaven; that the whole church of the elect may be present with him, 2 Corinthians 5:6,2 Corinthians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:17.

A glorious church; perfect in knowledge and holiness, shining with a heavenly glory, and fully conformed to himself, 1 John 3:2.

Not having spot; spot of sin, in allusion to spots in garments.

Or wrinkle; any relic of old Adam, in allusion to wrinkles in the body, which are signs of old age, and imply deformity.

Or any such thing, viz. which is contrary to the beauty of the church, and might make her unpleasing to Christ her Husband.

Without blemish; without any fault to be found in her. He seems to allude to the sacrifices, which were to be without blemish, Leviticus 1:3; see Song of Solomon 4:7.

Verse 28

So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies; with the same kind of love wherewith they love their own bodies. The woman at first was taken out of the man, and on that account the wife may be said to be a part of her husband.

He that loveth his wife loveth himself; either this explains the former, and himself here is the same as

their own bodies before; or it adds to it, and is as much as, his own person, the wife being another self, one flesh, the same person (in a civil sense) with her husband.

Verse 29

No man; none in his right senses; or no man hates his flesh absolutely, but the diseases or miseries of it.

His own flesh; his body.

Nourisheth and cherisheth it; feeds and clothes it, and supplies it with things necessary for it.

Even as the Lord the church, which he furnisheth with all things needful to salvation.

Verse 30

We are members of his body; his mystical body.

Of his flesh, and of his bones; as Eve was of Adam’s, Genesis 2:23; only that was in a carnal way, this in a spiritual, as by the communication of Christ’s flesh and blood to us by the Spirit we are united to him, and members of him.

Verse 31

For this cause; because the woman was formed of the flesh and bones of the man. He refers to Adam’s words, Genesis 2:24.

Shall a man leave his father and mother; as to cohabitation, and domestic conversation; or, let a inan rather leave his father and mother than not cleave to his wife. The apostle doth not cancel the obligations of other relations, but prefers this before them.

They two shall be one flesh; i.e. one body, or one man, viz. by the marriage bond, whereby each hath power over the other’s body, 1 Corinthians 7:4.

Verse 32

This is a great mystery; either, this that was spoken before of a marriage union between Christ and the church, and its being of his flesh and of his bones, is a great mystery, and so in the latter part of the verse the apostle explains himself. Or, this that was said of the conjunction of Adam and Eve was a great mystery, (i.e. a great secret in religion), as being a type of Christ’s marriage with his church; though not an instituted type appointed by God to signify this, yet a kind of natural type, as having a resemblance to it.

Verse 33

Nevertheless; q.d. Setting aside this mystery; or, to return to my former exhortation.

Love his wife even as himself; as her that is one flesh with him.

Reverence her husband; or fear, yet not with a servile, but ingenuous fear, and such as proceeds from love.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Ephesians 5". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/ephesians-5.html. 1685.
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